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France Becomes First Country To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right

Celebratory scenes were witnessed all across France as women's rights activists hailed the move that was promised by President Emmanuel Macron following a rollback of abortion rights in court rulings in the United States.

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AP
French lawmakers celebrate after they approved a bill that will enshrine a woman’s right to an abortion in France's constitution, at the Palace of Versailles, Monday, March 4, 2024 in Versailles, west of Paris Photo: AP
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France became the first country to make abortion a constitutional right as French lawmakers on Monday approved a bill to enshrine the woman's right in the French Constitution during a historic joint session of parliament in at the Palace of Versailles on Monday.

The bill was approved in an overwhelming 780-72 vote, and nearly the entire joint session stood in a long standing ovation, reports said.

Celebratory scenes were witnessed all across France as women's rights activists hailed the move that was promised by President Emmanuel Macron following a rollback of abortion rights in court rulings in the United States.

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Both houses of parliament, the National Assembly and the Senate, have already adopted a bill to amend Article 34 of the French Constitution to specify a woman's right to an abortion is guaranteed, an Associated Press report mentioned.

Abortion Rights In France

The right to abortion was decriminalised in France in 1975. None of France's major political parties represented in parliament has questioned the right to abortion. With both houses of parliament having adopted the bill, Monday's joint session at the Palace of Versailles, as expected, was largely a formality.

The right to an abortion has broad support among the French public, with a recent poll showing support at over 80 per cent, as previous surveys have also shown, an AP report mentioned.

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The same poll also showed that a solid majority of people are in favour of enshrining it in the constitution.

The right to an abortion added to the Constitution now makes it much harder to change the law that would prevent women from voluntarily terminating a pregnancy in France, women's rights and equality activists said.

“We increased the level of protection to this fundamental right,” the report quoted Anne-Cécile Mailfert of the Women's Foundation as saying. She added that it is a guarantee for women today and "in the future to have the right to abort in France.”

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